Tips for Keeping Your Furry Friends Cool in Summer

Did you know that dogs don’t sweat the same way as humans? Sure, they have sweat glands, but only in their paws. This is because they are typically covered in fur, so if they sweat in areas with fur, it will not evaporate and cool dogs down like they are supposed to. Paws have very little fur, so it makes sense to have sweat glands there.

This is true even for dog breeds with very little or very short hair. Evolution, you see.

If you’re feeling a bit envious, don’t be. The inability of dogs to sweat as much as humans do means they are more likely to overheat when the weather is hot.

Dogs with mobility issues are particularly vulnerable because they might not be able to easily move to the shade or get a drink of water. It helps if they have a dog wheelchair, but not if they have overheated to the point of exhaustion.

Note: NEVER leave your dog in a car on a warm day, even in the shade and with a window cracked.

Tips to keep dogs safe in summer

It is important that you make sure your furry friends do not overheat, especially as summer days are progressively hitting higher temperatures every year. Some dog breeds tolerate warm weather, and even thrive in it, but only within reasonable limits. You still need to make sure they stay cool and hydrated. Here are some tips.

Keep water around at all times

Make sure your dog has access to drinking water at all times. Dogs can’t get it for themselves, so that’s your job. When you bring your dog out for a walk on a hot day, have a small bowl or collapsible dog dish handy to put in water.

Have good ventilation

Keeping your dog indoors is a good idea, but the ambient temperature can still set the mercury rising. Open windows for cross-ventilation and turn on fans. Alternatively, turn on the air conditioner and set it at a comfortable temperature. 

Use sunscreen

If you have a dog with very little hair or have white fur, they can get sunburn. It sounds weird, but there are sunscreen formulations specifically for dogs. Use them on any surface exposed to the sun such as bellies, ears, and noses.

Ice, ice, baby

Many dogs love to crunch on ice cubes, so use that predilection to keep their bodies cool. Give them small pieces of ice as a snack and put a few in their water bowl. You can also put their chew toys in the freezer for an hour or so and have them chew on those.

Keep an eye on them

Healthy dogs are very active, especially disabled dogs that have been given a new spell of mobility with a dog wheelchair. You need to make sure they don’t overdo the physical activity, especially outdoors. Even swimming can be a problem if they overdo it because they get too tired. Have them take frequent breaks between playing and exercising.

Test the ground

You might not notice it at once with your shoes on, but concrete pavements can get pretty toasty on a hot summer’s day. Before taking your dog out for a walk, put your hand on the surface. If you find it uncomfortably hot for your hand, then it is too hot for your dog’s paws. It might be a better idea to schedule your walks in the early morning or late evening to be on the safe side for both you and your furry buddy.

Know the signs of heatstroke

Dogs can usually regulate their body temperature by sweating through their paws and panting. However, when it is very hot, these may not be enough.

Heatstroke happens when the body’s temperature goes beyond the normal range. In dogs, that is between 100.2 and 102.8 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a pretty narrow range. It is dangerous when it goes past 104⁰, and when it reaches 106⁰, that can lead to heatstroke.

Your dog may be starting to overheat if they are breathing faster than normal even when not moving, and they are salivating much more as well. Muscle tremors, staggering, and fatigue also indicate they are in a distressed state.

Warning: Overheating CAN lead to death in dogs. If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke, do what you can to lower the body temperature immediately before heading over to the vet.

Some of the things you can do are bringing them indoors and wrapping their bellies in towels soaked in cool water. Do not use cold water as this can bring down their temperature too rapidly and put them into shock. Take their temperature every 5 minutes until it goes down to 103⁰ then bring them to a vet.

Summary

Summertime can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. Overheating and heatstroke is a real thing, and they can have serious consequences. Following these tips will help you in keeping your furry friends cool during summer.

How to Spend the Holidays with your Pets

The holiday season is often equal parts stress and fun, especially these days of the pandemic when families are not encouraged to gather in big groups. Nevertheless, we still have our immediate family around with whom to celebrate Christmas, and that includes our pets. Make the season merry and not scary for our doggy friends by planning the celebrations with a little care.

Keep the Christmas tree dog friendly

Christmas trees are the penultimate symbol of the season, but it can be a minefield of problems for dogs. A real tree might be ideal, but pine needles are toxic to dogs if they chow down on it, so keep that in mind. Glass decorations can also be a problem when dogs get a little too chummy with them, especially glass balls that look too temptingly like toys to them.  There is also the problem of your dogs taking on the challenge of tearing that green thing down or claiming it as their own by peeing on it.

To address all these issues, opt for a plastic tree and spray the base with ethyl alcohol or something that will keep them from staking their claim. If you really want a real tree, keep it out of reach to your doggy friends by putting it on a small table and sweeping up any pine needles that might fall off. Place your glass balls ad baubles on the upper part of the tree and use only plastic ones for the lower branches.  In no case should you hang up anything with chocolate because they will try to get at it and they will get sick if they do.

Try to put up your tree early and gradually add decorations to acclimatize dogs to its presence. The tree would present less of an alien presence by the time you finish, and minimize the chances of an all-out invasion. It will also give you time to identify which decorations are most likely to keep them interested, and take them down forthwith.

Prepare some doggy delights

While you are cooking up a storm in preparation for Christmas dinner, you might want to look up some recipes for your dogs at the same time. Giving them their own doggy Christmas feast will discourage them from prowling the dinner table in hopes for scraps falling on the floor or downright begging for them.

Make your pets feel safe

Pets need structure and predictability to feel safe and secure, and that might get a bit shaky during the holidays when visitors come over for the holidays. This can be a bit disconcerting for your pets, so it is important that you provide them with a way to express their discomfort. Keep their toys available, and maybe a crate or two where they can hide when they feel overwhelmed. If you are planning to bring your pets to other people’s houses, make sure you take along their favorite toys and bibelots to give them comfort.

Lay down the rules

Other people tend to make a fuss over your pets whether when they visit you at home or you go to their homes, and pets notoriously take advantage of that. In advance of the visit, lay down the rules you have for your pets.

  • Do not give human food unless they get your approval first as these could contain stuff that will not be good for your pets
  • Do not feed from the table
  • Do not interact with pets when they are hiding, as this is a sign they are not comfortable and might act out
  • Keep doors closed

Capture the moment

Our pets live for a relatively short time, so it is important to capture special moments that come up during the Christmas season. Take photos or videos of your pet antics while decorating the tree, cooking up Christmas dinner, or standing at attention while opening of gifts. These make great social media uploads, and you can even slap them on Christmas cards. They will last forever, and keep your memories of the good times fresh.

Give them a break

Pets might appear to have boundless energy, but they actually need a lot of rest. Dogs sleep an average of 12 hours a day, and some breeds need even more. Make sure you let them get plenty of rest between activities to keep them from being stressed during the big day.  If you go out visiting and there is a chance of fireworks, make sure you shield them from the noise and lights by drawing the curtains and leaving the TV on to keep them calm.

Conclusion

All this preparation might seem like much ado about nothing, but they can really help you keep your pets in a holiday mood. Make your Christmas a merry one by following these tips on how to best spend the Christmas holidays with your pets.